Evolution of health coverage in Mexico: evidence of progress and challenges in the Mexican health system

Health Policy Plan. 2016 Feb;31(1):28-36. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czv015. Epub 2015 Mar 29.


To consolidate an effective and efficient universal health care coverage requires a deep understanding of the challenges faced by the health care system in providing services demanded by population in need. This study analyses the dynamics of health insurance coverage and effective access coverage to some health interventions in Mexico. It examines the evolution of inequalities and heterogeneous performance of the insurance subsystems incorporated under the Mexican health care system. Two types of coverage indicators were selected: health insurance and effective access to preventive health interventions intended for normative population. Data were drawn from National Health and Nutrition Surveys 2006 and 2012. The economic inequality was estimated using the Standardized Concentration Index by household per capita consumption expenditure as socioeconomic-status indicator. Approximately 75% of the population reported being covered by one of the existing insurance schemes, representing a huge step forward from 2006, when as much as 51.62% of the population had no health insurance. About 87% of this growth was attributable to the expansion of Non Contributory Health Insurance whereas 7% emanated from the Social Security subsystem. The results revealed that inequality in access to health insurance was virtually eradicated; however, traces of unequal access persisted in some subpopulations groups. Coverage indicators of effective access showed a slight improvement in the period analysed, but prenatal care and interventions to prevent chronic disease still presented a serious shortage. Furthermore, there was no evidence that inequities in coverage of these interventions have decreased in recent years. The results provided a mixed picture, generalizable to the system as a whole, expansion of insurance status represents one of the most remarkable advances that have not been accompanied by a significant improvement in effective access. In addition, existing inequalities are part of the most important challenges to be faced by the Mexican health system.

Keywords: Effective access; Mexico; health insurance; health systems; inequality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends*
  • Healthcare Disparities / economics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Insurance Coverage / trends*
  • Insurance, Health*
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult